As it turns out, “Hollywood Ending” is a somewhat misleading title for Agent Carter’s season finale. After all, while we may rag on studios for being a little safe in how their stories conclude, they at least normally bother to make the predictable ending satisfying. No such treatment is given here. After weeks and weeks of reigniting the goodwill that the early episodes of this deeply uneven season burnt out, this show has gone and delivered one of the most laughably lazy endings I’ve ever seen on TV. Throughout the course of this 40 minutes, any interesting story threads that were explored here have been either abandoned, or concluded in a way that makes me wonder why I have even wasted my time investing myself in them over these past few weeks.
Let’s start out with arguably our most important variable: Whitney Frost, the big villain. Over the course of this entire season we’ve been teased with what power her exposure to the Zero Matter would bring if it ever maxed out. As this episode began, it seemed as though we would finally see that transformation, as she absorbed all of Dr. Wilkes’ dose of said Zero Matter when he could not hold onto it anymore. However, something seemed screwy from the moment this happened, as when she confronted Carter and company, the most menace she could muster were some black eyes and a Cobra Commander esque “you can run but you can’t hide” diatribe that was cut short by being hit by a car. Yes, our big bad gets subdued by a car as she allows our heroes to escape with their lives once again, and believe it or not, that’s one of the less pathetic scenes she gets in this episode.
All of this hullabaloo lead to Joseph Mandredi deciding that he needed to join up with Peggy’s gang in order to help Whitney. As it turns out, he and Howard Stark (who thankfully returned here to inject a little charisma) are old running buddies, because of course they are. He deicides to help the team steel Whitney’s plans for a machine that will recreate the Zero Matter singularity, leading to one of the only funny sequences in which a fake interrogation takes a wrong turn. Man, what a disappointment this character turned out to be. Ken Marino initially seemed to be bringing such a breath of fresh air and humor to the lackluster rouges gallery. However, as the season went on, he was reduced to yet another drooling love interest for Whitney, who simply does not register as the type to bring a mobster to his knees. Their scenes together here felt unbelievably forced, with Whitney coming across more like a whiny teenager than a woman given cosmic power.
The final confrontation took place on one of Howard’s movie sets. Team Carter managed to reopen the singularity, Whitney is drawn to it and they shoot her with the gamma cannon which takes her Zero Matter away. Yep, that’s it. The “genius” Whitney just falls right into their trap, and is then taken to jail. No complications, or emotional payoffs in this climax, it was all over in the blink of an eye. Sure, the silly black hole didn’t close due to a little technical glitch and everybody had to hold hands for a moment to get that done, but even that didn’t create any consequences. I cannot tell you how insulted I felt that after a whole season of building to some sort of “fate of the world” battle, we were instead treated to a scene that a lazy screenwriting student would write to get their assignment in on time.
To make matters even worse, the character moments either nullified past arcs or left them to be resolved in a third season that likely isn’t happening. Jarvis, who had such a fascinating decent into anger and darkness last week, is just back to his chipper old self as if the whole Ana thing never even happened. See, the couple had a nice cry about not being able to have children off-screen, and are now just peachy keen again. Jack Thompson, who has been running behind everybody’s backs all season, is forgiven in an instant only to be shot in the belly by some faceless man at the end of the episode for a cheap cliffhanger. Don’t be fooled, it’s Marvel, he ain’t dead. As for the love triangle, Wilkes essentially just gives up because Carter is going back home, in a conversation that amounts to all of “sorry bruh,” leading to Peggy jumping Daniel’s bones in his office. It’s a pretty sad statement that a show that was primarily about its main character overcoming sexual politics in the workplace and grief over her lost love will likely end with that very character bumping and grinding on her workplace friend who’s marriage she broke up.
If I’m being honest, I feel like a fool. For a while there Agent Carter really had me going. However, with this ridiculously unsatisfying finale, the writers have made it borderline impossible to consider my time anything but wasted here. There were so many interesting directions that a LA set Peggy Carter story could have gone in, and we went in next to none of them here. My instinct is to blame ABC, whose insistence on connecting every Marvel show together by way of silly black goo while keeping the tone at a borderline Hallmark card level of peppiness most of the time has really steered them wrong here. Last year, I was very hopeful that Agent Carter would be renewed. Now I’m desperate for Hayley Atwell to find herself a better staring vehicle, and from the looks of the news, she already has.
Man, am I excited to revisit the world of Brian Finch next week.